All schools in Delhi will be permitted to call students of classes 10 and 12 to school starting January 18, the Delhi government’s education department directed Wednesday. However, the directions emphasise that it is optional for parents to send their children.
Schools in Delhi have been closed since mid-March since the start of the nationwide lockdown, and children in Delhi have not attended offline classes for a single day of this academic year. These new instructions have been issued in light of the CBSE announcing that its board examinations will be beginning on May 4. While the written board examinations will begin on May 4, practical exams will start on March 1.
“Heads of government, government-aided and unaided recognised schools may call students of classes 10 and 12 only to school with effect from January 18. However, the child should be called to school only with the consent of the parents, following the enclosed Standard Operating Procedure. Further, while the records of children coming to school be maintained, the same should not be used for attendance purpose as sending the child to school is completely optional for parents,” stated a circular to all heads of schools.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who also holds the Education portfolio, wrote on Twitter: “In view of the CBSE Board Examinations and Practicals in Delhi, permission is being given to open schools for classes 10 and 12 for practical, project, counselling, etc from January 18. Children can only be called with the consent of parents. Children will not be forced to come.”
The directions issued by the education department include detailed guidelines on safety precautions to be taken, and state that only schools located outside containment zones can call students. Schools have also been directed not to conduct assembly or any physical outdoor activities.
The circular also directs schools to conduct on-campus orientation for students “to give emotional/trauma support for their readiness with new normal of stringent physical distancing, face mask guidelines and hygiene guidelines”. Children will have to come to school with written consent from their parents.
Among the precautions schools have been directed to follow are mandatory thermal screening and hand sanitisation at entrance of school; staggered entry with a gap of at least 15 minutes to avoid crowding at the entrance and exit; guiding children not to share books, notebooks and stationery; regular sanitisation; keeping a quarantine room in case of emergencies; physical distancing and prohibition of gathering in common areas; and discouraging guest visits.
Along with instructions on how government schools may guide students through this period leading up to their board examinations, the education department has also notified that government schools may conduct pre-board examinations for class XII from March 20 and for class X from April 1.
Schools say ready
While parents were resistant to the idea of sending their children to school for a long time, heads of schools believe that the prospect of upcoming boards and reading the SOPs might make them willing to consent to offline interaction.
“I think a lot of parents have been hesitant due to the lack of directives like this. I’m sure that with the upcoming exams, parents will understand the importance of in-person guidance and hands-on work. We have been prepared infrastructurally for a long time for this and have just been waiting for these directions. We have also shared our own detailed SOPs with them to build confidence in them,” said Mount Abu Public School principal Jyoti Arora. She also stated that her school, like many others, had put off holding pre-board examinations so far. “We had not conducted our pre-boards in anticipation of such a direction and will now be conducting them offline later this month,” she said.
Principal of Sardar Patel Vidyalaya Anuradha Joshi also said that they are inclined to conduct offline pre-board examinations if the government directions permit it. “Several parents have spoken to us and said that they would prefer offline pre-boards since, after all, they are preparing for an offline written board examination. As far as parental consent is concerned, I would welcome them to visit the school and check the precautions to build their confidence,” she said.